The Travelogue Thread

Misrabelle

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I know people from my previous travels dotted throughout the country, and of course there are the usual touristy things that need to be done...

But I shall definitely consult the FG hive mind when it comes time to start planning seriously.
 

JimCorrigan

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The Travelogue Thread

Japan Day 9 - Kanazawa Day 2

This decidedly slower paced town correlates beautifully with our decidedly current slower pace of travel. Today was spent exclusively on the grounds of Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen. The castle itself (as many historical buildings in Japan) is a restoration job, having been previously burned to the ground. Usually, this was due to war, but this particular case was due to a lightning strike.

But first, a return to Omicho market for some fresh oden for breakfast.

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And oh, what a restoration job it was! The castle itself is nice enough to look at, but it's the engineering to recreate it as faithfully as possible where the amazement lies. No screws or bolts required to build, only a series of perfectly fitting interlocking pieces of wood (some used as bolts). The only reason you see any screws in the wood is to support the modern amenities added (like an elevator for the handicapped and modern plumbing for the toilets). I found this, and the video shown to demonstrate the building process, fascinating.

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In 48 hours time, our next travel destination is yonder over those mountains...

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Perhaps less impressive from a technical standpoint, Kenrokuen garden is certainly one of Japan's highlights from an aesthetic perspective. A beautiful, sprawling garden originally built by one of the regions' most famous feudal lords, it has been preserved and rewarded with the honour of being considered one of the top three gardens in the country. A free English speaking guide is provided for this portion and we had the good fortune of her company all to ourselves. The added insight she provided further deepened our appreciation for this place.

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We spent the better portion of 4 hours just enjoying this area, having no desire to do anything else. The plan to slow it down was the right plan, clearly.

On another, first world problems note: I made it clear to my wife in no uncertain terms that we are finished with hostels. I'm not opposed to cheap lodgings, and it's great she doesn't look to spend indiscriminately, and we have stayed in hostels on previous trips (most notably, a full week in Barcelona last year), but I draw the line whenever I lose my sense of privacy. This latest one, converted from a restaurant, with its (quite literally) paper thin walls, and older, shared bathrooms.... and twentysomething wandering hippies in the common room, with their guitars and meditation on the meaning of life.... where's Cowboy when you need him?

As long as I have a sense of peace and quiet and personal space, and it's clean, my travel needs are mollified. If I have to spend a few extra dollars (or in this case, a few thousand extra yen) to meet those requirements, then so be it. Even the capsule hotel we stayed at in Tokyo at the start of this trip was luxurious (again, defined per my requirements above) compared to this place. Shame, really... as the hostel's host is very friendly and accommodating.

We have one more hostel on this trip when in Takayama, but luckily for our next night in Kanazawa tomorrow we switch over to our second (and final) ryokan of the trip.

WRX STI in its native surroundings, looking in far better nick than my old WRX did when I traded it in.

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After living 42 years in Quebec, and spending less than 2 weeks in BC, sadly, I agree :(
I know the feeling. I came here at age 29 for a four week rotation while in medical school, and I promptly applied for its residency programs (and luckily got one) as a result: I've lived in BC ever since and barring a move to another country, I'm not going anywhere else. Having said that, there are plenty of great, lesser known areas across the country that are beautiful and wonderful. It's just that BC has the highest concentration of them.

I know people from my previous travels dotted throughout the country, and of course there are the usual touristy things that need to be done...

But I shall definitely consult the FG hive mind when it comes time to start planning seriously.
Please do. I'll happily help any way I can. :)

You are my kind of tourist: eat and drink local stuff! :D
Also, I wanted to visit Japan before, but I had NO IDEA it was this diverse and beautiful. Damn you! :shakefist:
We'll make it happen. :cool:

And yes, I fervently believe "when in Rome...", so eating as the locals do (or as near as such) is important.
 
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Redliner

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That building technique where no nails are used is stunning. It never ceases to amaze me.


And yes, I fervently believe "when in Rome...", so eating as the locals do (or as near as such) is important.


When I went to China, I tried to adhere to that.
The hotel we were in had 2 clearly defined breakfast sections: Locals and foreigners.
The former had pancakes, eggs, bacon, cereal and fruit. The latter had sushi, various cooked fish, noodles etc.
The businessmen I was working for was appalled that I was having "regular food" for breakfast and was willing to try anything they offered me throughout the day. :lol:
 

JimCorrigan

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Japan Day 10 - Kanazawa Day 3.

Thankfully, we left the confines/no privacy whatsoever of this particular hostel and transferred to a nice ryokan for a little pampering (this was always in the plan). This particular one was quite unassuming/not at all grandiose like what we experienced in Kyoto, but the tatami room was beautiful and well appointed. In fact, the major downside to it was that there was no real onsen in it. Just another bathtub too small for me to fit in. Whatever, the atmosphere (and food) made up for it, as did the price compared to our first ryokan stay.

But first, rickhamilton car sightings!

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And something for the rest of the FG contingency, something we do not get in the new world.

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Ryokan tatami room.

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Accommodations aside, the day was spent casually strolling Higashi Chaya, the historical geisha tea-district. This constituted wandering the tiny streets amidst the old homes, perusing the shops, and entering a well preserved geisha house converted into a geisha museum. For the evening, we had something very special planned.

Prior to entering Higashi Chaya, a stroll through a pedestrian only street (Ohori dori) at the base of the castle grounds, lined with statues.

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Higashi Chaya.

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Kanazawa is also known for its use of gold foil in everything from beauty products, to food, to alcohol.

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You see, most geisha are not available to entertain foreigners, or even local Japanese, without invitation by an existing client. However, in the interests of historical preservation, Ishikawa prefectural government is subsidizing the expensive training for young girls interested in this career, and one particular house opens its doors public shows throughout one month of the year. Tonight would be the opening night of that string of public shows.

We were regaled by the house owner, who gave succinct descriptions of how life works running a geisha tea house, and brief introductions into the songs that were played by her staff. We also got to participate in teahouse games, like drumming, or a modified version of paper-rock-scissors where the loser drinks sake.

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The owner's gold laden tatami room, which she claimed cost "more than a Ferrari." Wonder if she's seen The Fast and the Furious?

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It was a splendid way to spend an evening, and included exploring her house, before we ultimately had to leave and make way for our hotel, where we enjoyed a beautifully prepared meal served to us in our room. Well fed, we turned in for the night. Prepared to leave this seemingly innocuous fishing "village" and head on to our next destination tomorrow.
 
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Redliner

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Your travelogue is making me curious and nostalgic.
Let me explain:
When I was 14, I went to the USA, and it didn't feel that different from Brazil, and probably all the movies and TV are to blame.
A few years later, when I was 26, I went to China, and it was a completely different experience. I was babysitting an asshole businessman, so the whole trip was bittersweet, but it was so exciting yo talk to people so unlike me, see things and places that felt so...alien to me. The pictures and things you're telling us make me even more curious to explore Japan and feel that again. :)
 

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Japan Day 11 - Takayama Day 1.

We done fucked up.

Within minutes of arriving here, we realized we clearly need more than 2 days to explore the region. The entire "Hida" region is considered under cultural preservation, so there's a treasure trove of sites to see. Also, the nearby towns of Shirakawa-go and Okuhida Onsen were on high on my list, especially the latter since the name alone screams good hot spring baths. Well, always leave wanting more, right? We will return to Japan in another few years time, probably during the autumn season. And we will come back to this town and "complete" it properly.

For now, just a teaser. But oh, what a tease. Leaving Kanazawa station for a 20 min ride on a shinkansen before transferring in Toyama, then it's a straight shot to a Takayama via JR Hida Express no. 8. Ok, "straight shot" is a total misnomer, because mountains. And unlike the high speed shinkansen that for obvious reasons tunnel through them, this slower, express train winds its way up and around.

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Legroom, baby!!

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I want to live right here. NAO!

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As cold (if not colder) than Kanazawa, for obvious reasons, two things struck us immediately.

1) this town is charming.

2) it has the highest density of foreign tourists (based on our anecdotal experience) than any other city in Japan we've visited, including Tokyo. I guess Gifu prefecture has done very well advertising this region as a tourist destination.

And this is (thankfully) the last stretch of the trip with a hostel. However, this one is proof positive that I'm not opposed to them as an institution. This one was more professional, and hosted Japanese families as well as foreign tourists, and despite shared lavatories, it was cleaner, and had proper walls. I didn't feel like my privacy was being violated in this one. It's no Ritz-Carlton, but I have nothing to complain about. Free breakfast, too.

Oh, yeah. We did some site-seeing on this day as well. Hida village, which is a mix of authentic Hida peoples' homes, transplanted from their original locations elsewhere in the Hida region and placed on this plot of actual Hida land with remnants of an ancient castle. The Hida themselves were (are) a hardy bunch of rural folk/farmers, who later gained fame for their ability to weave with silk. This village is an excellent showcase of a prewar rural cultural lifestyle.

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Remember in an earlier post I was banging on about construction techniques without the need for screws/bolts? This Hida house shows a clear example.

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Local woman using special single line stitch technique to make toys.

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Hina dolls.

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Fire engine.

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Naturally occurring old gnarled bark.

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I think Jeremy Clarkson would approve of this one.

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Wood carving.

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JimCorrigan

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Japan Day 12 - Takayama Day 2.

Maybe it's a good thing we only have 2 days in the fresh (re: frigid) mountain air, because what started as a runny nose has turned into a full blast head cold. My sinuses are clogged, my voice is (more) hoarse, and I'm exhausted right from the off because I couldn't sleep due to an inability to breathe lying down. An onsen would have been out of the question, so would have been a trip to Shirakawa-go, things that weren't on our itinerary anyway.

Luckily, today was dedicated to exploring Takayama proper. We started the day with its famed morning markets, Miyagawa and Jinya-mae. Think farmer's markets with fresh fruit, vegetables and knick-knacks, only Japanese style, and you wouldn't be far off. Pleasant way to spend a morning. We sampled some local foods: one kiosk in particular served small "cakes" made only from egg and sugar, which were amazing. It's also not a bad way to buy a few pounds of locally made miso to bring home.

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Also, freshly made (as in, right in front us) takoyaki!

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Next was Takayama-jinya, administrative centre for the Kanamori clan, the only remaining prefectural buildings from the Tokugawa shogunate in the early-mid 1800s.

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Next thing I remember (I was really fuzzy) we stopped at a store that manufactures plastic replicas of food for use as restaurant samples, where they let customers participate in making their own. My wife gleefully sat down and "made" plastic takoyaki samples.

Yeah, these are not real, unlike the ones posted earlier.



Next was my highlight for the day: Sanno Machi, or the sake distillery region. Free samples abound! Too bad I was too drugged up to enjoy it beyond a few samples. Luckily, this didn't stop us from buying a bottle of famous yuzu-flavoured sake to bring home (we also bought locally made gold-flecked sake and plum liqueur earlier when in Kanazawa for the same purpose).

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Plus, we also ate Hida beef sukiyaki for late lunch nearby.

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A lot of museums and shrines abound in Takayama, but like elsewhere in Japan, they mostly close at 5 pm, and at this point it was nearing 4 pm. Luckily, there was a museum that was open until 6, and it was something I knew both my wife and I could enjoy.

Welcome to Showa-kan. A great recreation of post war and boom era Japan with all sorts of memorabilia.

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Video games, and playable! Wife and I played some Final Fight 2.

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JimCorrigan

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Japan Day 13 - Matsumoto Day 1.

We leave Takayama with far too much left on the table, but in leaving, I also manage to leave my head cold behind. At least, my fatigue and brain fog are gone, but now we're making with the brown phlegm and sputum. I've never been sexier.

As surprised as I was to see Takayama full of fellow tourists, I was even more surprised to see what felt like all of them boarding our same departure train from Takayama station.

At least I had nearly five hours of three wonderful train rides through the Japanese Alps to look forward to. Two 100 minute express trains flanking a 20 minute local train. However, we only had 4 minutes to transfer from the first express in Tamiji to the local train. Even in a country with public transport so millisecond precise as to make the Swiss look utterly lazy , this was a bit nerve wracking. Thankfully, it went off without a hitch.

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UNfortunately, my wife's motion sickness got the better of her, and she hurled on the second express train 15 minutes before we arrived in Matsumoto. My motion sickness is limited to planes (and occasionally boats), and my wife is the opposite. Fortunately, she felt better afterwards, but between my phlegm and her puke, we were the picture perfect foreign couple today.

First impressions? Matsumoto, a city of 250,000 nestled in a large plain between mountain ranges, is beautifully laid out and has attractive architecture. Next most important: we had a proper fucking hotel full stop. The full nine yards thanks to a killer online deal my wife secured months ago, this cost us less than 50% of the regular price. Complete with tea service while we waited to be checked in, and although not an onsen, a proper, relaxing public bath.

Also, and this might sound selfish, but I like the idea of travelling to a location with a far smaller concentration of other tourists, as it makes me feel as I'm getting a more authentic, less patronizing experience.

We spent what was left of daylight hours exploring the Nawate-dori street and Nakamichi neighbourhood shops, and of course the fabulous baths and accommodations of our hotel. Tomorrow would be a day to fulfill the site seeing mandate.

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Want to take these home.

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Zed!

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Wow.
The Japanese have a way of making simple things in an exquisite way.
:nod: Meticulous, deliberate, and often mesmerizing.
 
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JimCorrigan

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Japan Day 14 - Matsumoto Day 2.

We both love this city.

It's pretty in and of itself, has beautiful natural surroundings, is home to over 11 natural hot spring sites, has much less tourist traffic than Takayama, is the right size population wise, oh... and its famous dishes include soba as well as its locally grown apples (and apple themed omiyage as a result).

It has a proper castle, one of 12 left standing in Japan, one of 5 considered to be historically worth preserving. One of the reasons for which was it never got attacked, so much of it is still original (the adjacent palace was, however, razed to the ground).

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Original gargoyles/guardians as part of the castle's outer architecture. I could not get a good shot of the more appropriate shachi lion/fish chimaeras which still guard from the rooftops.

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Original 16th century cannon of Dutch heritage. Was turned into an ornamental piece after unification, like much of the area's handguns and rifles (which sadly, I couldn't get a decent shot of due to reflections from the protective glass.

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Secret/hidden floor with no natural lighting, designed to hide warriors who can lance would be invaders as they march upwards to the castle's higher levels.

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View of one range of mountains from the top level in the castle (the other ranges were hidden from view by low lying clouds).

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Small, hidden shrine nestled in the castle's roof, for which prayer and rice are offered on the 26th day of every month in exchange for divine protection.

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Its sense of history goes far beyond that of even most other Japanese locales. It is situated in what is known as modern day Nagano prefecture, but much of the available literature/commerce still refers to this area by its pre-unification region, Shinano province, or Shinshu. Its city museum is home to artifacts dating back to the 10th century. It is essential to Japan's origin myth (Chinese people, feel free to roll your eyes at this one), and home to the almost extinct tanabata doll making.

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It's home to the country's first proper elementary school (Kaichi) and helped lay the foundation in the 18th century for Japan's rapid transformation from an agricultural society into a well educated one. It's a city whose motto is "anybody can become a teacher", in the broad sense, not the school house literal one. It (both this city and this school-turned-museum) is especially famous for its music education and cultivation.

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I found these next two samples to be quite interesting.

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Fine examples of a waning Japanese car culture. Bosozoku gone nuts...

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... and inspiration for the west coast Fast and Furious style tuner scene (with a JDM only Accord wagon, no less).

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You, too (rickhamilton) can be a hustler in this kei car...

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It also happens to be home to the best damn tasting chicken..... in the world :jeremy:. I'm not exaggerating. If you can find better breasts, put your face between them and motorboat already.

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This seemingly innocuous looking location on the 4th floor of Matsumoto JR station (itself a small mall) is home to the best tasting chicken. Full stop.

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Bought these as motivation to improve my Japanese.

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The experience was admittedly improved with a dinner in a nondescript izakaya around the corner from the hotel, specializing primarily in yakitori, with no English or pictures in the menu. We winged it. Sitting at the tightly packed counters watching the cooks do their thing was a joy, as was the adjacent Japanese business duo speaking to us (in full Japanese), inhibitions undoubtedly lowered by consuming their fare share of Japanese beer. Even with my broken Japanese, we struck up some fun dinner time dialogue asking each other about where we were from, what we did, etc. etc. I was challenged to a shochu drinking match, and I didn't lose (I can't say I won, because he went easy on me out of consideration, unbeknownst to him I was more than ready for the full challenge). We exchanged business cards and emails, we thanked them for their kindnesses, they wished us well on our upcoming baby (a lie I told to keep my wife out of the drinking match). This is the sort of thing that I found to be commonplace in Japanese izakayas fifteen years ago, and I miss it dearly (when was the last time you approached, or were approached, in a non threatening way by complete strangers in a restaurant and proceeded to engage them for the next few hours?).

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Of course the experience was further helped by the amazing five star hotel (put in more stark contrast to the hostels we were staying in for 4 of the past 5 nights) which included the aforementioned public baths (sitting naked in a room of old men never felt so good), and also the included buffet-style high quality Japanese breakfast.

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That doesn't matter. The experience was great, but it also didn't take away from the Matsumoto itself. This town remains high on our list of places to revisit should we return, as we'd like to then visit some of the onsens, check out more shrines and temples in the peripheral regions, and catch a local soccer match when in season.

Tomorrow is our last train ride (boo! though my wife will be understandably pleased) as we head back to Tokyo to close out our trip. Of the three new locations (Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto) we got to sample, this latest one has been our unquestionable favourite. Matsumoto-shi mata ne.
 
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Redliner

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You sneaky bastard, adding pictures after writing and confusing the hell out of me. :lol:

The blacked-out books are interesting, but the English lesson borders on the hilarious.
"It is not a good cat if it gets on the bed." :D
 

JimCorrigan

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The Travelogue Thread

Japan Day 15 - Matsumoto Day 2.5/Tokyo Day 1.5.

Today was a gastronomical day.

Our trains weren't until 2 pm, so we took full restful advantage by having a nice sleep, great breakfast with locally roasted coffee (this is vital, since I never drink coffee, but this was so damn good), then lazily wandering around the area surrounding our hotel. It was barely 11 am and we wandered into a same brewery/store and well, I just had to buy that cute combination of small sake bottle and cup, all for only 500 yen. Also purchased some locally made sweets to take back home.

Proper breakfast buffet

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Mmm. "Dark" curry with breakfast.

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Shots of my favourite hotel's lobby.

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Our (now messy) room.

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Not the best of shots, but views from the windows. Can even see Matsumoto Castle.

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Next door sake brewery.

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Then at 12 we made our way back to Matsumoto station, my wife getting her shop fix.

At 1 pm, we had another go with the best chicken, in the world. It did not disappoint. I am entirely ruined for chicken karaage anywhere else. Matsumoto Chicken Karaage Centre. Remember that. Eat it.

MOAR CHICKEN!

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At 2 pm we boarded Shinano Express no.11 to Nagano. Thankfully for my wife, it was a much smoother experience than the same train from Takayama. I'm assuming that was partially due to this train spending what felt like half of its 50 minute ride going through mountains instead of around them. Still, the views have up the ghost as we neared Nagano from above.

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While waiting at Nagano station for our final shinkansen to Tokyo, I noticed another bullet train that had the markings "Gran Class" on them. Suspicious this was even cooler than our Green Car reservations I peered through the window. I was not disappointed.

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I'm guessing these are solely available for businesses, as they are not even an option for tourist reservation. Very cool.

Then we begun our 90 minute swan song bullet ride to Tokyo, getting to see some lovely snow capped scenery as we blitzed through Karuizawa, all the while I was getting blitzed on my sake. I will miss these train rides, their extreme comfort, and all the added bonuses. Top travelling tip: first class Eurorail passes are a total rip off, since you aren't guaranteed to get first class seats. Japan's Green Car reservations, however, are totally worth it. Get them.

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Upon arriving in Tokyo, we made our way to our final hotel in almost literally, the heart of the city. Chiyoda district is home to the imperial palace and related gardens, as well as numerous museums and shrines (including the often controversial Yasakuni shrine). To celebrate our first evening, we took further shinkansen (yay!) to Yokohama and back, to eat our way through the Ramen Museum. I'm serious, but it's less museum, and more home to 8 different famous ramen shops from around Japan and the globe. All in a location with a throwback feel reminiscent of the Showa-kan museum we visited in Takayama. Very cool, and very, very good.

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It had an old school sweets shop.

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And it had this AWESOME scalextrix track, which sadly was closed for the evening so I didn't get a play.

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Tomorrow begins the real Tokyo adventures. I'm actually not all that excited, having spent almost an entire year here long ago. I already miss the smaller, more intimate areas of our trip, and in my heart, that means our vacation is over.

That makes me sad. I miss our dog, but otherwise I do not want to leave/return home. That says a lot about my affinity to this place. It won't be another fifteen years before we make our way back, this I promise you.
 
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JimCorrigan

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The Travelogue Thread

Japan Day 16 - Tokyo Day 2.

I'm not sure if it's the seemingly invasive climate control of our room, or something more sinister, but I felt like hell all day (note: it wasn't the sake, as that had ran its course through me well before dinner last night). This made taking pictures and enjoying myself particularly difficult, even more so by today's plan to spend the day primarily people watching in Harajuku.

If you don't know Harajuku, it's basically the WTF Japan thread come to life, every other minute. Oh, and given today was a) a Sunday, and b) the start of a national week of vacation, it was more packed than usual. The throngs of humanity were enough to overwhelm me.

Takeshita-dori. Pronounced TAK-uh-SHEET-ah, not "take a shit."

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Shoes, anyone?

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The crush of humanity + headache + general distaste for shopping = get me out!

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Um, yeah... read the pants.

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Why you ask? Because this:

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An anime about boys, who like Sanrio products. I'll be sure to add this to my Netflix favourites.

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Ok, this store, at the other end of Takeshita, was truly adorable.

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We had a brief sojourn through Yoyogi Park and Meiji-jingu shrine.

Torii made from 1500 year old cypress. I believe it, given the diameter.

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Sake barrels. Fuck me, yes.

(This shrine is dedicated to Emporer Meiji)

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Husband and wife ancient trees, with traditional cloud and lightning wrappings between. A place to offer prayer for your relationship.

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Otherwise, it was get your freak on central. At least when I felt at my worst, we were at a major intersection above Jinga-mae subway station, where if I wanted to turn my back on the Japanese harajuku fashion (rant: western women doing the Harajuku fashion, you look like utterly pathetic wannabes), I could be entertained by the most eclectic of impromptu car shows. Every 10-20 seconds I was regaled with supercars, weird 60s British cars, or even something out of the 1920s with the driver in period headgear. Oh, and Japanese man riding the Harley Davidson in an overtly USA themed jacket, you too look utterly stupid.

Yes, I had a headache all day and wanted nothing more than to retreat to my hotel room. Why do you ask?

You sneaky bastard, adding pictures after writing and confusing the hell out of me. :lol:
Yeah, sorry about that. It's just easier to write this out on my iPad, but all the photos are on the phone, so they get spliced in afterwards.
 
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Redliner

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View attachment 18570

Ok, this store, at the other end of Takeshita, was truly adorable.




Yeah, sorry about that. It's just easier to write this out on my iPad, but all the photos are on the phone, so they get spliced in afterwards.
Uh, what? :lol:

Also, that "Line Friends" store has special edition Lamy Safaris. My kid (who is already a fountain pen collector) is absolutely nuts about getting them:

:lol:

Also, no need to be sorry. I was just teasing you. :p

Ramen Museum. I need to visit that. :|
 

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The Travelogue Thread

Japan Day 17 - Tokyo Day 3

A proper day in Tokyo in April.

We spent the morning and early afternoon in Ueno Onshi Park and were finally greeted by the classic Japanese springtime tradition that had eluded us thus far on our trip. Endless sakura viewing, or hanami.

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Simply gorgeous.

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A beautiful seasonal experience that lasts for only 10 days per year, sakura blossoms represented the end of winter/beginning of a new farming season, and in modern times has been adapted to represent the end of one school year and the beginning of the next school year. Japan's Golden Week, or national holiday, is supposed to coincide with this natural event, but understandably this is one thing that cannot occur with Japanese precision. This year, Golden Week isn't for another few weeks.

The park is swarming with the reverie of locals sitting on tarps preparing picnics, eating and drinking (and drinking properly, I might add) underneath the blossoms. Families, young lovers, and even business people for a nice lunch respite across Japan congregate in parks and viewing areas just like this.

We had a nice impromptu oden lunch next to a shrine by Shinobazuno-ike (Shinobazu Pond). Afterwards we walked the circumference of the pond for further viewing and relaxation.

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For the rest of the afternoon, one particular set of edifices kept our attention: Tokyo National Museum. It's a great primer into multiple aspects of Japanese history from the Jomon period right up to the Tokugawa shogunate, ranging from religious significance, archeology, natural history, cultural development, etc.

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My wife likes this one, seeing as how it's called "Chinese Beauty."

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The thing I found so interesting about Japanese art was how they expressed their creativity on every day items such as cups or bottles or door screens. It wasn't until they were exposed to western cultures that they began creating canvas style paintings or sculpture en mass to export their wares.

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Quick: guess which Jomon era artifact in this picture represents strength and power?

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Actual Yayoi period items they let us grab.

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Late Kofun era items that would decorate the top of burial grounds.

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In the evening, Shibuya district and the Mecca of all Japanese fashion: the "mankyu", or Shibuya 109 department store. For my wife, of course.

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Yup. That's what it's called.

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We also had dinner at the latest evolution of Japan's conveyor belt sushi restaurants. Check this shit out.

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It was also quite fresh, and priced very reasonably.

We finished the evening "wasting" an hour j the Yamada department store sitting in high end massage chairs getting worked over like nothing else.

Look, mine had a screen and it would talk to me, for God's sake!

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How do you top that?

Also, that "Line Friends" store has special edition Lamy Safaris. My kid (who is already a fountain pen collector) is absolutely nuts about getting them:

:lol:
I didn't see any fountain pens while there, but I admit I wasn't looking. Are they costly? Shame I didn't have a chance to ask this before I left. Got you a postcard, though. :)

Ramen Museum. I need to visit that. :|
Yes you do. Come hungry.
 
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Redliner

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I bet the Hanami is one of those things that must be seen in person. Beautiful. :)


I didn't see any fountain pens while there, but I admit I wasn't looking. Are they costly? Shame I didn't have a chance to ask this before I left. Got you a postcard, though. :)


Yes you do. Come hungry.
To be fair, those were limited editions that came out a few years ago for around USD60 ( the regular one is around USD25). Since they became collectible, eBay has those for USD100-150, so yeah,a bit pricey even at the time, but it's nice of you to even consider it.
Also, yay postcard. :D
 

JimCorrigan

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Japan Day 18 - Tokyo Day 4

Akihabara. Need I say anymore?











You can rent a gas powered cart, dress up like Mario AND DRIVE THROUGH TOKYO!! My wife and I soooo wanted to do this, but it just wasn't in the cards for this trip. Next time, absolutely (you also need to apply for your international driver's license in advance).



Proof that I am indeed a very lucky man, it was my wife's idea to visit M's Pop Life seven story porn shop, AND eat lunch at a maid cafe. Ok, the food was barely average, and expensive, but the experience was um... interesting. I likened the series of bar stools where individual customers were seated facing the "performance" stage as pervert's row. Mind you, it's perfectly tame, just a little odd. No photos allowed, however (they take photos of you via Polaroid).



But I can show how they make everything kawaii, even the food.





This place, in the same building, could have been more interesting....



Photos inside this store also prohibited. Sorry.



More general Akihabara weirdness AND goodness. I WANT ALL THE TOYS from this Ignition Model (made in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan).

















Otherwise, the day was spent letting wifey shop for whatever the hell she found inside Don Quijote's (yes, that is how it is spelled), and then clothes and other stuff in adjacent Uno district at Uniqlo and Daiso, the latter a "hyaku-en" store, or the (far superior) equivalent of a dollar store. Dinner was a more conventional conveyor belt sushi place, which also promised better quality. It was more expensive, but actually not as good as last night.



One more day.
 
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